FIFA’s Valcke seeks support from Brazilian critic Romario

Valcke was in Rio to mark 100 days to go until the Confederations Cup, an event which serves as a test run ahead of football’s four-yearly showpiece event.


During his tour of the country, Valcke was accompanied by organizing committee members Bebeto and Ronaldo, two former Brazilian national team stars who tasted World Cup victory.


Romario, a teammate of Bebeto’s during Brazil’s 1994 triumph, was named President of the Brazilian Tourism & Sports Commission on Wednesday.


The former striker has been a firm a critic of Valcke in the past after the Frenchman condemned Brazil’s World Cup preparations.


The criticism led to calls for Valcke to be removed from proceedings, but he insists the situation has been resolved.


“I just wish him all the best,” Valcke told CNN. “I hope in his position he will support (us).


“I know that sometimes he has hard words on FIFA, on the World Cup, on different people, but at least I hope that he will support and is supporting the World Cup as a sporting event.”


The South American country’s preparations for its second World Cup — and first in more than 60 years — have been beset by problems.


Brazilian Football Federation president Ricardo Teixeira stood down in March 2012 amid allegations of corruption, while concerns have been raised over whether stadia will be ready on time.


Particular scrutiny is being paid to the construction of the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, which hosted the final the last time Brazil staged the World Cup in 1950 and is due to reopen with a match against England on June 2.


The eight-nation Confederations Cup, which pits continental champions against each other, will be held in the cities of Rio, Belo Horizonte, Recife, Brasilia, Fortaleza and Salvador from June 15-30.


“It’s like when you’re expecting a baby to come,” Valcke told CNN. “It is 100 days so you are a bit more nervous than you are at the beginning of the process.


“The Confederations Cup is not the same event as the World Cup. The World Cup is a bigger event than the Confederations Cup. What we have to agree and what we have to make sure of is … we have more than enough time to test the stadium, to use the stadium, and to have a stadium ready for the Confederations Cup.


“It’s very tight, that’s a point — 100 days is nothing.”


Next year’s World Cup marks the start of a landmark couple of years for Brazilian sport, with Rio hosting the 2016 Olympic Games.


Reprinted from CNN




 

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